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Sexual Harassment & Employment Discrimination

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Quinn Emanuel is the only major AmLaw 100 firm with a practice group focusing on the representation of victims and plaintiffs in sexual harassment and employment discrimination cases. 

The firm is particularly well-positioned for this type of work.  It is the largest litigation firm in the world and has extensive experience in plaintiff-side and employment litigation.  The firm has obtained five 9-figure jury verdicts, thirty-four 9-figure settlements, and fifteen 10-figure settlements.  We have won more than $60 billion in judgments and settlements. The firm has been repeatedly recognized as one of the “Fearsome Foursome” of firms that in-house counsel least wants to face in litigation.  We have extensive litigation experience in industries such as banking, advertising, finance, fashion and entertainment, where sexual harassment and discrimination claims frequently arise.

The Sexual Harassment & Employment Discrimination Practice Group includes several former federal and state prosecutors, the former global head of Human Resources at a major bank, and lawyers who specialize in plaintiffs’ litigation and employment litigation.  These skilled trial lawyers know how to investigate allegations and develop the evidentiary record necessary to build a winning case.  Because of our trial record, we can obtain settlements that other firms cannot. 

We have also represented employers in more than eight hundred sexual harassment, race discrimination, and retaliation cases.  This defense-side experience gives us unique advantages, including that we can anticipate arguments and defenses that may be employed by defendants, and craft an effective strategy.  And it also gives us credibility with defense lawyers.  

In addition to direct actions brought by victims against perpetrators and their employers, we also represent clients in shareholder derivative suits.  These suits may involve, for example, claims against a board of directors based on its failure to act after learning about an employee’s complaints of sexual harassment, or for approving settlements with victims of sexual harassment or discrimination inconsistent with its fiduciary duties.  Securities fraud claims can also be based on allegations that the company made material misstatements or omissions regarding sexual harassment that affected its stock price.


Recent Representations

  • We represent dozens of major companies in submitting an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination against of employees “because of … sex” includes a prohibition on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • We represent a proposed class of current and former fashion models bringing suit against their modeling agencies. The proposed class is asserting claims that (i) the agencies denied the models the protections of the New York Labor Law by misclassifying them as independent contractors and (ii) the agencies breached the models’ contracts by failing to pay them all amounts due thereunder.
  • We represented a female executive at a well-known sports oriented company who had worked her way up the corporate ladder at her company to become one of only two female executives in the company, receiving rave reviews for her work. Unfortunately, she was subjected to a “boys club” atmosphere of improper sexual overtures, drinking and drugs in addition to being given all the demeaning jobs at the company’s sports events. Within three weeks, we negotiated a $5 million dollar settlement for our client.
  • We represented a female plaintiff in an employment case involving race discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation. In 2010, after she was fired by her employer, Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, she filed a complaint with EEOC, received her right to sue letter, and then filed suit pro se in April 2011 for race discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000). Plaintiff kept her case alive for nearly two years in federal court until case was referred to Quinn Emanuel in March 2013. Near the end of the discovery process, we were able to achieve a favorable settlement for our client.
  • We won asylum in the United States for a young Ecuadorian woman who fled her home country after her partner attempted to murder her. The client’s partner subjected her to extreme persecution and torture over the span of a decade. When she finally attempted to elicit police intervention, her complaints were ignored and the violence escalated, ultimately leading to an attempt on her life. Quinn Emanuel demonstrated to the trial court that Ecuador could not protect the client. The strength of the firm’s advocacy resulted in the government conceding the case and waiving the right of appeal.
  • We represented a plaintiff who had alleged wrongful termination and retaliation claims against a former employer for racial and disability discrimination under federal, state, and local law. The case settled on favorable terms for our client following the close of discovery.
  • We represented a probationary employee at the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner who was terminated from her position because of her obligations as a military reservist. Despite advising her supervisors of her reserve obligations when she was hired, our client experienced hostility and then was terminated just before her probationary period expired because of her reserve obligations. Service members are protected from this sort of discrimination by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), a statute that operates much like Title VII. The client had been representing herself (quite ably) through summary judgment prior to our involvement. She successfully resisted summary judgment, although in his order denying summary judgment, Judge Broderick wrote “there’s sufficient evidence, albeit perhaps barely so” to avoid summary judgment. And there was also evidence that the client’s job performance was lacking and that she was often late and insubordinate. On top of this, as a probationary employee, her salary was not high and her claims were for backpay assuming she would become a full time employee. We started our representation advising our client during a court-mandated mediation, but the parties were unable to reach agreement, with the City only offering a nominal amount, and we began to prepare for trial. The court granted our request for leave to take three limited depositions of potential witnesses and, after the depositions, the City’s offer rose. We recently finalized a settlement with the City that was eight times the initial offer.
  • We represented a plaintiff alleging discrimination on the basis of his sexual orientation in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law by a large investment bank. After the close of discovery, we procured a favorable settlement for our client.
  • We represented a female executive who endured years of an "Animal House" work culture, suffering discrimination, harassment, demotion, and constructive discharge due to her gender, her pregnancy, and her status as a mother. We successfully negotiated a favorable pre-litigation settlement by preparing and presenting a complaint that thoroughly detailed the “boys club” atmosphere at the company, leaving little room for denials by the company and its executives.
  • We defended a young woman against suit by a wealthy and powerful foreign prince, who alleged our client defamed him by blogging about how he had sexually abused her while she was a teenager in Nigeria. Our team convinced the judge to dismiss most of the case on an Anti-SLAPP motion, obtained an award of attorney's fees, and created new precedent protecting the rights of victims who speak out against sexual abuse. Facing a renewed Anti-SLAPP motion by QE and our client, the plaintiff stipulated to dismiss with prejudice what remained of the case.
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